By Matthew Clark
In the mid nineteen seventies, a high schooler half way through his teen age years, I journeyed into Eganville, Ontario, Canada, to watch the movie 'Soylent Green,' playing at the Bonnechere Theatre. Located, logically enough, by the Bonnechere River, the theatre was a typical rural movie hall, small, comfortable, with a snack bar at the entrance to the seating area. The menu at the eatery was quite short, chips, popcorn, chocolate bars, licorice, and several types of pop. There were perhaps fifteen rows of seats (that might be a generous assessment), with each row having a section of seats at either end, usually six or seven seats, and a more substantial middle section. At the very back of the building, on the left hand corner, if one was looking from the movie screen, a big gaping hole in the roof gave the building a run down look. Rumour had it that the hole was created when an air conditioner, improperly installed, had fallen to the ground, taking some of the ceilings structure with it.
Since the next day was a holiday, one of the long weekend Mondays, although which one fails me, the crowd in attendance was quite youthful. As such there was plenty of immature noise circulating throughout the building. The reason for the crowd being at the movie hall
was social, rather than any excitement for the film itself.
'Soylent Green' had been produced in 1973, several years before it made it's way to Eganville. It starred Charleton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young, Chuck Connors, and, in his final role before his death, Edgar G. Robinson. The storyline occurs sometime in the years 2022-2024, and is one of the darkest, dystopian films, ever made in Hollywood. It also contains perhaps the greatest non-homosexual love scene between two men in movie history.
As previously stated, the opening was greeted by a furious din from the audience, yet this quickly subsided as the story progressed. Youth has a fascination with the macabre, which 'Soylent Green' had plenty of. This tale of the future (back then) portrayed a dark time, with a world running out of food, morality amongst human beings almost non-existent, and technology reduced to late 19th century levels. One of the more unsettling products of this age were suicide centres, where individuals were offered a dignified death if they chose to use the centres service.
Detective Thorn, portrayed by Charleton Heston, is the plots essential character. Thorn investigates the murder of a wealthy politician. As he delves further into the murder he starts to uncover sinister forces, intent on stopping him from finding out the truth behind the cause of the politicians murder. Eventually Thorn discovers that the worlds population is on the brink of starvation, the depleted oceans which offered a last hope against famine, are too barren to fulfill that role. As a last resort authorities are using the bodies from the suicide centres to feed the earth's desperate inhabitants. In an effort to disguise where the food is coming from it is given the title 'Soylent Green.'
Although the movie was disturbing, the unease it created quickly dissipated once one left the theatre. Eganville is located in the heart of the beautiful Upper Ottawa Valley. Although inflation was raging in Canada in the mid 1970's, food was affordable, no danger of starvation existed there. Furthermore suicide was perceived as an evil act, performed by weak, despairing individuals, who rejected God's greatest gift.
Yet a more cautious observer might have noted that 'Soylent Green' was set in the 2020's. That was fifty years from the 1970's. A lot can happen in five decades!
Two score and ten years after the making of what is now a cult classic, there is at least one unnerving similarity between contemporary society, and 'Soylent Green.' In the Canada of 2021, suicide, sponsored by the federal government, is a common method of death. According to the National Canadian Television Network, CTV news, 10,064 people died with medical aid (fancy way of saying doctors killed the patient)! This is an astounding 32% jump from 2020. It also represents 3.3% of all deaths in Canada for that year. In Quebec the number is 4.7%, while British Columbia is 4.8%. They are the provinces with the highest numbers. In many instances Health Practitioners are obligated to counsel medical assisted suicide to vulnerable patients, including individuals with mental health issues. Individuals have been euthanized because they are going to become homeless. Doctors have been caught counselling patients on the option of assisted suicide, so they could avoid taking up so many of the hospitals resources. Recently some health authorities in Canada have voiced the opinion that children, in some circumstances, should be offered medical assisted death!
When over ten thousand people are euthanized, it is almost certain that there are many cases where the decision to kill was unjustified. That means the federal government of Canada has committed murder, probably many multiple times! This is, of course, from a secular, legalist, viewpoint. A Christian interpretation is that the Canadian Federal Government is guilty of murdering over 10,000 people!
In a nation where the state controls medicine, and where provincial governments so often fail to exercise their prerogative over health, the danger of abuse is likely to occur. Acquiescing to federal dictates in the field of health has become standard in Canada, practiced by both provincial jurisdictions, and the nations banal politicized judiciary. Canadian jurists are authoritarian conformists when it comes to protecting the citizens liberty.
Such are the conditions which are leading the country into becoming a variation of 'Soylent Green.' As citizens we might, hopefully, not be required to cannibalize on our dead, although suspicion that the federal government, in desperate times, might try to enforce this requirement should not be dismissed, yet we might see our children murdered, under protection of law, by government, and their health practitioner allies. After all children, in most cases, are the ultimate innocents, and murder is about the guilty, preying on the innocent.
Either way murder by suicide, performed on adult, or child, is evil!